Kimberly Hoffmann: If I say “homosexual” in my head, my tone and accent changes, like a British professor in corduroy, it feels too “technical” like how paeonia suffruticosa is the species name for peony flowers. I don’t know that it ever had a nice ring to it, but now, it does seem like we are consciously moving out of “homosexual.” I think gay or queer is more up my alley. I say queer a lot more now, because it umbrellas mostly everything I’m typically describing. Maybe in 25 years we will take back “homosexual” or maybe we will just be “humans.”
Elaine Atwell: I usually describe myself as “gay” because it’s short, sweet, and doesn’t invite a whole bunch of questions. But I increasingly like “queer” when I write about our community because I think it’s funny, inclusive, and because it seems to have a little more ability to resist the constant policing of identity (especially fluid sexual identity) that goes on in a lot of comment sections.
Chloe: I like gay, as in “all gay every day boo boo” with a toss of the head and twinkle of the eye. In a moment of brilliance-ish (probs buzzed) I came up with the term “faguette” because I believe in taking back slurs and like the idea of reworking one of the ugliest words around—faggot—into a pretty word: faguette. Maybe I’m just partial to the ‘ette’ ending, because at age seven I named our puppy “Baguette” as she was a petit basset griffon vendeen and quite long.
Jenna Lykes: Reading through all these responses just made me sit back and think, “Language, man. Crazy,” like a total stoner.
But, seriously, language and the reclamation of words are complicated topics, and I don’t think I can really do them justice in the time and space allotted here. If I have to choose a word to describe myself, I generally go with “queer.” I think it’s inclusive, but also subversive (and probably some other -ive words, too). Also, I actually like that “queer” can still mean strange or odd, because I am both of those things.
The only word I can’t really get behind reclaiming is “dyke,” because, I kid you not, a boy in high school once used the taunt “Jenna Lykes dykes” on me. I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered.
Janelle Sorenson: This is a really interesting conversation! In the past couple of years I have really settled on queer. It’s all-encompassing, it fits anyone who is even a little not-straight, and it feels right to me. Though I am a lesbian, I’ve never really felt completely myself wearing that word as my label to the world.
Though, when I hear the word lesbian, I always imagine Blanche Deverauex saying it in that episode of the Golden Girls when she finds out that a friend is a lesbian and not only that, but she’s attracted to Rose and not her. That fact makes me love that word all the more.
But I still prefer queer. For myself anyway.
Trish Bendix: Homosexual reminds me too much of a But I’m a Cheerleader-ex-gay-conversion therapy situation.
In theory, I’m probably queer, but I strongly identify as a lesbian as part of the greater “queer” community, which is, I think, the most-inclusive way of describing us all when needed.
What should we be “called”? What do you call yourself?